African Union Wants UN to Boost Somalia Forces, End Weapons Ban

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Addis Ababa, November 1 (WIC) - The African Union urged the United Nations Security Council to bolster its peacekeeping force in Somalia and lift arms-import and charcoal-export bans on the Horn of Africa nation.

As many as 12,000 soldiers from Uganda, Burundi, Kenya and Djibouti are helping government forces battle the al-Shabaab militia, an affiliate of al-Qaeda, in Somalia, which hasn’t had a functioning government since 1991.

Civilian reinforcements are needed to secure areas liberated from al-Shabaab, while additional maritime forces will patrol a coastline plagued by piracy, the 54-member bloc said in an e-mailed statement today from Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital where it’s based.

African Union forces captured Somalia’s key port of Kismayo earlier this month, capping a string of military victories against al-Shabaab that included gaining control of the capital, Mogadishu. Ethiopian troops are assisting the African Union mission in central and western Somalia.
The removal of the arms embargo is needed as “part of efforts to empower the Somalia defense and security sectors" the continental body said.

It also urged the Security Council to “look into the issue of the large volume of charcoal found in the city of Kismayo when African Union forces captured the city. Income from trade in charcoal, sugar and contraband earned al-Shabaab as much as $50 million a year before the capture of Kismayo, the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia said in a July report.

Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud was elected as president of a new Somali government last month that replaced a UN-backed transitional administration. Next year, his government will hold its first bidding round for oil concessions since the fall of Mohamed Siad Barre’s dictatorship 21 years ago. (Bloomberg)

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